At Monday's news conference at the Castle, outside linebacker Jarret Johnson was asked about the trash-talking that will invariably take place -- think Terrell Suggs and Tom Brady yapping at each other again -- when the Ravens and New England Patriots meet for the AFC championship Sunday in Foxborough.
This always cracks me up. Asking Jarret Johnson about trash-talking is like asking Ray Lewis about French modernist painters. Or asking Joe Flacco about the fuel rods in a nuclear submarine.
Trash-talk is out of Double-J's line of expertise. Way, way out of it. Johnson doesn't trash-talk. And he doesn't seem to have much of an appreciation for it, although he knows lots of NFL players -- including, ahem, some of his teammates -- use it as a motivating tool.
Neverthless, when a reporter asked if the trash-talk between the Patriots and Ravens was because you have a proud quarterback in Brady going up against a proud Ravens' defense, Johnson gamely tackled the subject -- diplomatically, of course.
"I don't know Tom personally," Johnson said. "I don't know what he thinks of us. What I do know is that he is super-competitive. Competitive people like a challenge, and we're a challenge. We play a certain way that I think he likes, and I think he looks forward to playing. he gets fired up and expresses that. That's my opinion. I think he looks forward to playing us."
Another reporter wanted to know if the dynamic of the trash-talk between the two teams involved players trying to get into each other's heads.
"I don't know," Johnson replied, honestly. "I don't know if you can get in people's heads. Just because a guy trash-talks to me, it doesn't get in my head. I think it's more competitive people telling the truth, saying they way they feel. I like it."
And so ended a mini-seminar on trash-talking by Professor Johnson, the Raven perhaps least likely to ever engage in it.
Only in the NFL . . .